Sorry for the cheesy title, but I just LOVE doubles day on Davis Cup weekend. It’s the pivotal match – the one that can save a flailing team, nudge one’s nose out front, or wrap the whole thing up with confetti and squirts of champagne. There’s no neutering – the match is best of five sets without super tiebreaks or other gimmicks – and the crowd packs the stands and cheers as if they could care less about the pundits’ declarations that doubles is unwatchable and not worthy of coverage.
So today we were treated to the spirited match-up of Nalbandian/Calleri vs. Lopez/Verdasco in the Davis Cup finals in Argentina. It was a well-played match, with plenty of net rushing, lobbing, body blows and tricky angles. I loved watching stocky, red faced Nalbandian belly up to the net to carve up a series of nasty drop volley winners and the photogenic Verdasco reaching back to rip a big forehand straight down the middle of the court.
And the drama! Can you believe Spain lost their 2 break advantage in the third set only to come back and win the tie break after being down 5 points to 1 (with the help of a vocal Spanish fan)? That was crazy. 2 breaks up? You could just feel the panic rising up in the throats of the Spanish players (“Is Rafa here?”). But they pulled through in the end. It was a little sad watching the Argentines deflate after the tough fight in the fourth – “Don’t give up David!” I yelled at the T.V., but the tide had turned. Sometimes momentum is everything, especially when you’re against the home team.
And how about that fabulous crowd today? Yes, they were a little over zealous with their drumming and horn blowing and jumping, but who cares? It’s thrilling to see such passionate displays from tennis fans. American fans really need to find some kind of joyful song to sing in unison while pogoing up and down and waving our hands over our heads like evangelical preachers. Queen is good every once and a while, but I think a little more melody would go a long way. (Although we did to a pretty good job in Portland – how sad we can’t be defending the Cup this weekend!)
So Argentina has a tough row to hoe tomorrow – and it’s fitting how a big part of the result will rely on the health of the young del Potro, considering what a banner year the oft-injured youngster has had. But he dealt with the pressure in the semis vs. Russia, so I think he might be able to do his part for the team this time (assuming his toe and his tongue hold up – sigh. . .)